Saturday, June 11, 2011

Celebration in Cyprus

Today we celebrate the Memorial of St. Barnabas, considered an Apostle. He was born to a Jewish family of some means on the island of Cyprus, and later accompanied Paul on his work. Stoned to death in 61 for his success at preaching the gospel, his body was said to have been secretly interred by John Mark.

In 478 he is said to have appeared in a dream to the Archbishop and reveled to him the place of the grave. The remains were found with a copy of the gospel of Matthew. The copy of the gospel was presented to the Emperor of Constantinople, and in return special privileges were granted to the Archbishop, which gave rise to the Church of Cyprus, making them a self-governing church within what we now know as the Orthodox Churches.

While one may choose to doubt much of the legend that surrounds his life, death, and tomb, one cannot doubt the impact his work with Paul had on the initial spread of the gospel and his courage. As we prepare to celebrate tomorrow the birth of the church at Pentecost, let us pray for a rebirth of the passion that drove Barnabas and the other early preachers of the gospel.